Hospitals face shortage of medical gloves

  • Connexions
  • Wed, 09 Dec 2020 00:00:00 GMT
  • 649

A nationwide survey shows that hospitals and clinics in Japan are experiencing shortages of disposable medical gloves.

In the spring, amid the initial spread of coronavirus infections, nurses and other healthcare professionals faced severe shortages of personal protective equipment. Professor Sugawara Erisa of Tokyo Healthcare University conducted the survey early in December among about 220 nurses caring for coronavirus patients.Eighty-seven people, or 40 percent, provided responses.Asked about the supply of disposable synthetic rubber gloves, nearly 60 percent of respondents said they are experiencing a shortage or about to face a shortfall.

The survey also found that 93 percent feel that the situation has reached crisis point or are concerned about the supply of medical gloves.Some respondents said such gloves are becoming hard to come by as indicated by prices more than doubling. Others said they have been forced to use non-medical gloves. Others said the use of gloves should be discouraged in non-medical settings where they are not essential.Sugawara says that a shortage of medical gloves can lead to hospital-acquired infections. She says it is no exaggeration to say that this amounts to a loss of ammunition in the battle against the virus.

She also says it will be necessary to rethink whether gloves used outside healthcare services are really essential in order to secure the required supply of gloves.Malaysia produces two-thirds of disposable gloves made from synthetic or nitrile rubber.Since the coronavirus pandemic started, demand for the products has intensified, pushing up prices.

In November, thousands of workers were confirmed to be infected with the coronavirus at Top Glove, a leading manufacturer of disposable rubber gloves in Malaysia. The firm's factory was temporarily closed.The company says it produces 26 percent of the world's rubber gloves. But delivery of products is expected to be delayed two to four weeks due to the temporary plant closure. Some media outlets say prices may go up further.

Japan's health ministry says it plans to carry out a survey on domestic output and imports of disposable gloves by the end of the year as there are no available data on demand and output of medical gloves.

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